For some reason, I seem to know a lot of people who are running the Little Rock half marathon for the first time. This will be my third race. I do it for fun and I’m one of the slower in the back people. In fact, last year I got some weird back spasm around mile 3 and walked the rest of it slowly and ended up being the last person to finish. I still had so much fun that my cheeks hurt from smiling.
So for all my friends and whomever reads this. Here’s what to expect, the Penguin edition.
You have to print out your registration confirmation ticket from the website or your email box to bring to the expo to pick up your packet. They have it divided up between type of race and your race number so that part goes rather quickly. There’s a list at the front of the expo in alphabetical order that will tell you your race number. So you’ll get a manilla sized envelope with your goodies and then you’ll go and pick up your t-shirt. Then you go to another guy to get your chip swiped. This confirms that your chip will show up as you in the results. This is how the event tracks your time and confirms you finished. MAKE SURE YOU SWIPE THAT CHIP! All they do is swipe the entire envelope like they do at the grocery store. It’s fairly easy.
In the packet, you’ll find (1) your chip (2) your race number (3) the tag that says half that you put on your back (4) your entry bracelet for the post race party (5) your entry to the Hatcher Perks Pavillion if you paid for that. Then there is some reading material.
Since the packet pickup is in the back, you’ll pass the vendors who are there. This expo is pretty small and won’t wear you out like some of the larger race expos (for example: The Marine Corps Marathon in Washington DC). The local running stores have spots and that is where I got the running gloves, headband to keep my ears warm in winter, and running socks. They’re usually on sale. They have shoes but I have never found my type. Also, there is a guy selling THE STICK. If you have never heard of this thing, it is a plastic stick that is slightly flexible with hands on both ends. You roll it over your sore muscles like a rolling pin over dough. It is amazing. Seriously, it will get those kinks out. Now, depending on how tied up those knots are, it will hurt a little but it is definitely worth the cost. Also, there are places selling refridgerator magnets, bumper stickers, Christmas ornaments and all sorts of other running paraphenalia.
Confession time. I have never gone to the pasta party. I usually have bready deep dish pizza but that’s just me. Do what you usually do and don’t be a hero or listen to me for pre-race eats. I do not want to have you vomiting on race day on my head. But I am familiar with the hotel and they usually have good food.
Hatcher Perks Pavillion
I have done this both years. They have porta potties really close to the starting line. They also have a space to leave post race change gear. They also have MASSAGE THERAPISTS!! oh sweet baby Jesus this makes the thirty something fee worth it.
The Race itself
If you’ve never run a longer race, you’ll notice there’s a lot more people than you’re used to seeing it a race.
IF I recall, one year the start was ON TIME!! and the other year was a little late.
Due to the chip, you don’t have to actually start “racing” until you cross the official starting line. So walk that sucker. Don’t worry everybody else will be walking and people are friendly so if you forget, someone will tell you to slow down until the line. It can be up to five minutes for you to even reach the starting line depending on how far back you are.
A. The First Five miles
Mile two and Mile five are on the Broadway bridge. The cool thing about this is that the elite athletes will becoming back on the bridge by the time you make it there. Remember, they actually started five minutes before you even crossed the starting line and they go a lot faster than you. The amazing thing is that they’re going really fast and yet they make it look so easy.
North Little Rock is really proud of their participation in the Little Rock Marathon. Usually, the mayor is at the end of the bridge to welcome you to North Little Rock. There’s a lot of entertainment on this side of the river: marching bands, country music, cheerleaders, people just cheering to be cheering. You’ll also pass your first water stations.
The downer to this part of the race is that there is a lot of passing of people. It’s still crowded and you will encounter the bane of my existence. The more than two group of people, usually women, who decide to just walk in a horizontal line. Now when it’s four people, it’s beginning for an impromptu game of Red Rover. Also, when it is that large of a group, they are just chatting and having a grand ole time and are OBLIVIOUS!!! to the people around them. Seriously, I’m glad that three or more of your besties are running and walking with you at the half but seriously, you make it impossible to pass and you take a significant chunk of road when you do this. For some reason, I think these groups split up because I don’t notice this phenomena near the end of the race as much as I do in the beginning. It harshes my running happy and turns me into an F-Bomb machine!!!!
Okay… now that rant is over. Seriously I hate those fuckers.
Okay now it is over.
The Second Five Miles
Once you get across the bridge, it’s pretty urban with office buildings until you get to the 10K marker. Then you’ll be approaching McArthur Park. You’ll run around half of the park on 9th and then Commerce. It’s fairly quiet around here. Then you will cross the overpass that cuts you across I-630. Just on the other side of I-630, you’ll get to the ENTHUSIASTIC water station. They are happy to see you and you are happy to see them. Then you’ll get back on Scott Street and pass Villa Marre aka the Designing Woman House
Mile 8 is up Capitol street to the Arkansas State Capitol. It’s pretty much one big upwards climb. It’s tiring.
Then you turn around and at mile 9, there is a Methodist Church that really does it out for the runners. They got balloons, music, and a big crowd of people cheering you on.
Then you’ll go down Center over another overpass over I-630 to the Governor’s mansion. That road is a steady incline too. By this point, I am tired. You’ll be tired too.
The last 3.1 miles
For some reason, these last 3.1 miles is sparse. There are three water stations and they are screaming and enthusiastic. There are people playing music from their porches but other than that it is pretty bare. Also, due to the fact that it is the end, you’ll be tired and your knee or back will act up if it is going to act up by this point. It’s the part of the race where you face the mental test of whether or not to stop or keep going. It’s the time where you are making deals with God and giving yourself the “okay three steps and then I’m walking and then two more steps” Once you get past the overpass on Chester, it’s all downhill and/or straight until you get to the turn at La Harpe. It’s pure adrenaline because you know you’re ALMOST DONE! There are people all lined up by this point. You get one last water break. If you’re a woman, you can stop for free lipstick.
Then you’ll see the crowds of people hanging out and then you’ll cross the line. There are bleachers at this point. Someone will come and take off your timing chip. Another people will wrap you up in mylar. Yet another volunteer will put the finisher’s medal around your neck. Another person will be handing out bananas. THen you’ll be in the Athlete’s village. Usually, there is someone handing out bananas, milk and chocolate milk, and hot dogs. ‘
And you’re done. yee haww.